Independent modelling into the proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage in Australia has found that it would cost Australian taxpayers much more than current estimates would indicate and that the vote would have negative effects on the LGBT community. And no, this modelling wasn’t done by a left-wing think-tank… it was undertaken by prestigious auditing firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers
Their modelling found that a standalone plebiscite, as apposed to a parliamentary vote (which would cost a mere $17 million) or a plebiscite coinciding with the upcoming election ($117 million), would cost Australian’s in the region of $158 million — and that’s just for the actual vote. PwC estimates that the ,vote will also incur $281 million worth of lost productivity as people head to the polls and $66 million worth of funding for the “yes” and “no” campaigns.
PwC’s modelling also predicted that the campaigning would have an impact on the mental health of LGBT Australians worth almost $20 million. Suzi Russell-Gilford, a PwC partner, explained that, “arguments opposing marriage equality in the media and community forums will have an impact on mood disorders and mental health of LGBTI people. This will be devastating for a segment of the community already more susceptible to mental health issues as a result of discrimination”.
Even PwC Australia’s CEO, Luke Sayers, has come out opposing the standalone plebiscite, saying, “It’s clear from these findings that a standalone plebiscite on marriage equality is a massive waste of time and money that will remove focus on the economy, growth and jobs which is the real priority for Australia”.
It’s anyone’s guess how the Turnbull government will respond to criticisms from a sector it might have otherwise expected support from. I must say though, for a government so keen to fix the “budget mess” left behind by Labour, spending almost half a billion dollars asking a question to which you already know the answer to (polling has consistently indicated that over 60% of Australians are in favour of same-sex marriage) when you could just allow your party a conscience vote and spend just $17 million… isn’t a great look.